Friday, May 27, 2011


It's been one of THOSE weeks. And yes, the rest of the site is down... trying to get it back up...

In writing news, I've done a little more work. We're coming up to a battle scene shortly... I hope to have an excerpt up tomorrow or so...

Monday, May 23, 2011

New Title for "A Wizard of Arade"

I've finally come up with a better title for "A Wizard of Arade".

An Unwanted Apprentice

So what do you think?

I think it captures more of the opening of the book, and I think it sounds more compelling as well. I've decided on the series name of "The Land of Arade" (yes, there will be a sequel or two, as well as more books set in the same land.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Have a "Galaxy Quest" mentality

A couple of encouraging things today, both for me, and for any other aspiring authors out there who might be reading this.

A quote from Ira Glass:

"Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through."

. . .

It takes 10,000 hours of practice, and you'll become an expert at anything you really work at.
More here:

Oddly enough, it's encouraging for me to hear things like this, and that Brandon Sanderson wrote 13 different novels before he got one published.

Why does this encourage me? After reading all the odds of getting published, it's nice to here at least somewhere that hard work will be rewarded. Oh, and the title of this post? One of the quotes from the movie Galaxy Quest: "Never give up, never surrender!"

Friday, May 6, 2011

Christian Fantasy?

Today I want to talk to you about Christan Fantasy. No doubt some of you are thinking, "What?", some are thinking it's all bad, and some love it.
I want to talk about three things today:
  • History of modern Fantasy
  • Is Christian Fantasy any good compared to regular fantasy?
  • Is Fantasy good for Christians to read?

First, I want to say that I hope my writing is enjoyable to everyone. That said, every authors writing is influenced by how they think about things. Many writers put a deliberate message into their works, and some don't, but you can still see how they think based on what they write. My writing has a deliberate Christian message in it, hopefully not the kind that says "I'm better than you, quit doing all that wrong stuff" (sadly, there are lots like that). I'm aiming for more the "God loves you, and their is hope and purpose in living" kind of writing. How can the Fantasy genre do that?, is the question many ask.

History of modern Fantasy
There's tons of more detailed sources on the web, so I just want to gloss over this. You'll see why later in the article.
First, what is fantasy?
Fantasy books generally have magic as some kind of plot element, and take place in a fictional world. It's very similar to science fiction, except magic is often used instead of scientific or sudo-scientific explanations for the imaginative goings on.
Fantasy as a genre has it's roots in various fairy tales, modern fantasy started with the work of George MacDonald. It really didn't become popular until the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were published.

Is Christian Fantasy any good compared to regular fantasy? 
Why ask this? Because the general opinion among readers is that materials created strictly for a "Christian" market are of lower quality.
To counter this point, I'd like to point out that both Tolkien and Lewis wrote about Christian themes in their work (Lewis more-so...)
I'd also like to point out the works of Stephen Lawhead.
Sadly, these are about it for christian fantasy. There are a few others that very few have heard of. This leads into our next point.

Is Fantasy good for Christians to read?
One reason there isn't much christian fantasy is that there is an opinion among some that the fantasy genre is "evil".
See the link below for a summation of this position:

To sum up that position, the Bible says magic is evil, and so we shouldn't have anything to do with it at all, period, even if it's pretend.

Obviously, I don't agree with this position. (Since I write fantasy and all...)
I think there is a difference between "magic" in the real world, and "fantasy magic"

First, the Bible does say that magic is evil: Acts 8:9-25; Acts 19:19; Rev. 9:21; Eze 13:18; Rev 21:8; Rev 22:15; Lev 19:26; Isa 3:3; Eze 13:23; Mar 3:22; Jer 27:9;

So if magic is evil, why is it OK in fantasy? We need to define magic here:
1. the art that, by use of spells, supposedly invokes supernatural powers to influence events; sorcery
2. the practice of this art
3. the practice of illusory tricks to entertain other people; conjuring
4. any mysterious or extraordinary quality or power: the magic of springtime
5. like magicvery quickly
Reading that definition, and then the verses were magic is used in the Bible, we see a few things:
  • Magic is either fake power, or comes from the devil
  • Practitioners thereof attempt to control or do something without God
So how is this different from magic as used in fantasy books?
Quite frankly, sometimes its not.
In christian fantasy, however, magic is either used as an analogy for God working through someone, or power is given from God, to accomplish his goals.

I'm going to pause here a moment. Go read 1 Corinthians 8:1-13.
Some people have a big hangup about the word "magic", and can't see it as anything but evil. If this is you, I think that Fantasy as a genre is not for you. If you know someone with this opinion, I'd say don't try to talk them out of it, and don't try to get them to read fantasy.

So to sum up, I don't see anything wrong with "magic" if it's using the bottom three definitions from above, or if its an analogy or allegory for God's power.
Where do I find in the Bible that analogy and allegory are okay?
Jesus taught in parables all the time: Luke 5:36-39; Luke 6:39-45; Luke 8:4-15; Luke 10:25-37; Luke 12:13-21; and many others... (John Chapter 7 has some interesting and macabre metaphors...)

What about supernatural things happening in the Bible (People using God's power to accomplish things that could be seen as "magic"), can such things really come from God?
Luke 11:14-23; (Most of Exodus); Joshua 3:15-17; Joshua 10:12-27; and, some of my personal favorites: 1 Kings 17:1 - 2 Kings 8:15

In summary, I think reading and writing fantasy is fine as long it's done in the right way, for the right reasons.
If you're not a christian and reading this, I hope you've found it interesting anyway and that you'll find a few new good books to read.
If you are a christian and reading this, I hope it's helped you in some way.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Magic Systems in Fantasy

Magic of some sort is a staple in Fantasy books. If you've read a lot of fantasy (and I'm assuming you have, or you probably wouldn't be reading this blog... No, wait! Don't leave!) you'll notice that there's always a system to the magic, certain rules that it has to follow. The literary reason for this is there would be no conflict, and thus no book if any and every problem could be solved in a *poof*.
Lots of writing sites talk in depth about this, so I want to outline the magic system that I'm using in A Wizard of Arade.

(By the way, if anyone reading this has a better idea for a title, please share it in the comments...)

Magic in the world of Arade isn't the same as the magic found in most fantasy books. Religion is a major part of the book,  and the magic system is tightly integrated into it.
A Wizard is someone that Ard (an analogy for God in the book) has given the ability to manipulate the natural world. (A person can also get power from evil-- that will come into play later in the book.) This ability is limited by two things: an individuals energy, and their knowledge about what they're manipulating. (If I did my job right, this is all explained in the book as part of the story..)

So in this case, if someone is very tired, or doesn't know how something works, they either can't use magic, or can only do very limited things with it.

Yes, I know, this an awfully sc-fi way of dealing with a magic system, but hey, I like sci-fi and fantasy. ;)

If any of this sounds interesting, you can read the first draft of the first chapter... there's a link over to the left.

Tomorrow (hopefully...) I'll talk about Christian Fantasy...